Tag Archives: Christmas Gifts

Grandma’s Last Christmas

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Grandma’s Last Christmas

Something took apart my beanie, ripping seam from seam,
stealing my favorite panel for its evil scheme.
Dad’s boxers and Mom’s flowered blouse likewise disappeared.
Our baby sister’s blankie the next thing commandeered.
Mother’s apron, then a snip from her wedding dress,
taken from an inner seam, so who would ever guess?
And who would even notice Father’s tie now missed an inch?
Was there no sacred item that they were loath to pinch?
Auntie’s favorite hanky. Uncle’s tobacco pouch.
Grandma’s antimacassar that graced her threadbare couch.
Grandpa thought the moths had been at his old red flannels,
and several of our curtains were missing parts of panels.

All of us superstitious about what we’d next lose,
a semi-official inquiry offered no clear clues.
Sister’s last year’s prom dress was the next sacrifice.
Was it a new type of moth? Was it rats or mice
operating with precision, taking a tidy square?
What creature did its robberies with such exquisite care?
A year passed and another year. We began our defections
as our lives led us here and there in various directions.
Home again for Christmas, then off again to lives
involving universities and jobs and kids and wives.
Until that special Christmas, gathered at Grandma’s bed,
with Grandpa at the foot of it and Mother at the head.

We kids gathered around each side, except, that is, for one.
That was the year that Sis had said she could not join the fun.
Our husbands, wives and girlfriends did not quite fill the space.
Not one of all our children quite made up for that face
missing in the middle. That favorite of all.
That special pesky sister, sliding down the hall
on a purloined skate board, or filching Halloween
candy from the sack you’d saved. Center of every scene
that involved tricks or mischief, yet only bent on fun.
No mean bone in her body. Not a single one.
We’d sung Gram’s favorite carol, and, about to sing one more,
we heard a footstep in the hall. A creaking of the door.

A cloth-swathed creature leaped at us, then swirled it overhead.
It settled over Grandma, resting lightly on her bed.
It was a quilt of many fabrics, many colors, many shapes
made of communion dresses, knickers and wedding capes,
prom dresses and baby blankets, doilies, curtain panels,
and right there in the middle were Grandpa’s old red flannels.
I found my purloined beanie and a boy scout badge I’d missed.
I even found a scarf I stole from the first girl I’d kissed.
We all gathered around it, and stories fell like snow
upon this quilt that told them all, and on Grandma below.
We ate our Christmas dinner gathered around that quilt.
Everyone so careful that not a crumb was spilt.

Grandma with her bed tray, fingered now and then
a scrap of cloth that told another story of back when.
We should have known, of course, that our sister was the schemer.
What other one among us was such an inventive dreamer?
She knew the time would come when, scattered far apart,
something would be needed to rejoin our family’s heart.
We had no idea then that what seemed a dereliction
was  a noble enterprise, founded on her conviction
that our family history must somehow be recorded.
She kept her project secret from us, lest it be aborted.
All our buried memories needed to come to light,
so she bound them all together, in stitches neat and tight.

The prompts today are deep, official, light, conviction and bean.

I’m Not Dreaming of a White Christmas

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I’m Not Dreaming of a White Christmas

I’m not dreaming
of a white Christmas
bedecked with tinsel
and mistletoe.

That bougainvillea spilling down the wall
is festive enough.
Who said a Christmas had to be 
composed of personal memories decades old?

I like a little sand in my Christmas,
good friends and not a holly sprig in sight—
our memories being made,
not dwelled upon.

Where was the snow in Bethlehem?
On what day did Santa finally arrive,
bag laden with gifts more frivolous
than gold, frankincense and myrrh?*

What we celebrate at Christmas
is more than anything
Bing Crosby
might have devised.

The warmth of friendship.
Finding those things,
in spite of our many differences,
that are the same.

That first Christmas
celebrated in the desert,
there was a star.
The animals were its first celebrants.

Only afterwards
came those wise men
who in their gifts
predicted its ending.

*The three gifts had a spiritual meaning: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) as a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death. This dates back to Origen in Contra Celsum: “gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God.”

The word prompts today were white, compose, bedeck and festive.
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/12/22/rdp-saturday-white/
https://fivedotoh.com/2018/12/22/fowc-with-fandango-compose/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/12/22/bedeck/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/12/22/your-daily-word-prompt-festive-December-22-2018/
https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/21/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-22-18/

Christmas Gifts

Click on first photo to increase the size of all and to read captions.

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My mother was the hero of Christmas. Decorated waste paper baskets from the church bazaar, that “Skunk” game I’d been begging for, played once and never again, that one last doll when I was eleven, purchased more for her own nostalgia than my need. The tree went up as the orange and brown of Thanksgiving was disposed of, and the jubilation of Christmas stretched on until New Years, when the tree came down.

For my dad, however, the end of Christmas was never quick enough. The tree lights hurt his eyes, he said, but I always wondered if there was more to it than that: some sparsity of the Christmases of his past that had broken its spirit in the heart of a young boy raised on a South Dakota prairie that furnished few rewards, let alone extravagent Christmases, but still expecting more, perhaps, than an orange in the toe of his sock. A pony, maybe, or a stick of hard candy, a jaunty new blue winter stocking cap or simply a mother  more given to Christmas than his own busy midwife of a mother, always off to somewhere else.

In our mad months of enthusiasm over tinsel, ornaments resurrected from the attic and the mystery of wrapped boxes, we overlooked the remnants of that little boy’s pain, but some part of each of us, detecting it by some subconscious radar, never gave up trying to heal those hurts of former Christmases with tiny Black Hills Gold tie tacks, new wallets and papier-mâché sculptures meant to prod him from his apathy. It never quite worked, except for that sculpture, ugly in its craziness, laughed and pondered over, then left to age and weather on their unroofed patio until its demise, giving one small hope of reviving a small boy’s wonder over Christmas and the unexpected. His forbearance over the years made him, perhaps, another subtler hero of Christmas, just in his putting up with it.

The prompt words for today are orange, game, hero, jubilation and quick.  Here are the links:

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/rdp-tuesday-prompt-orange/
https://fivedotoh.com/2018/09/11/fowc-with-fandango-game/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/11/hero/
https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/daily-addictions-2018-week-36/jubilation
https://dversepoets.com/2018/09/10/quadrille-64-quickwrite-something/

Why I (Thought I) Slept in Today but Probably Didn’t

I won’t relate the horrors of Guadalajara traffic and why it took me ten and a half hours to get there, do my business, and get home again yesterday. That isn’t the reason I slept in until what I thought was ten thirty today. But, as I look at my alarm clock, I see it is still ten thirty even hours after I woke up and realize the battery must have gone dead, so perhaps I didn’t get as much sleep as I thought, since my computer says 10:34 and I’ve already located two more emergency presents and creative last-minute wrapping materials, posted a blog and chatted several times with Yolanda, so I have no idea how long I slept last night.  I do know that I wrapped gifts for Yolanda and Pasiano’s families until 4:49 a.m. I also put together two framed photo collages for two of their gifts and although I bought Xmas wrap, discovered I had no ribbon, so I engineered  ribbons by cutting up old cloth belts and used egg carton flowers for bows.  I used photos for tags so non-readers could find their own gifts. Where there is a will, there’s a way.  Some of my late-night inventions: (If you are viewing from Facebook, click on the URL or you won’t see all the photos.  Then click on first photo to enlarge all photos and view as slide show.)

 

A Christmas Gift for You All!

A Christmas Gift for You All!!!

I have been combing my brain trying to think of some gift I could give you all to thank you for your support over the past year and it suddenly occurred to me that I had the perfect one already made. Below, I am presenting my entire Christmas storybook, minus the pictures (except for one) in the hope that you will read it aloud to someone you love this Christmas. 

The other day I got a fan letter from the uncle of a two-year-old who laughs out loud every time they mention Aunt Knox and demanded that it be read to her every night for three nights in a row.  (What has happened since then, I do not know.) I also received a video of an 8-year-old reading it aloud (without faltering over one word) except, with typical 8-year-old humor, he substituted “spanking” for the word “sox” every time, in spite of the protestations of his Grandma. His younger brother thought he was hilarious, so perhaps it was a kid thing.

So, here it is, my present to you.  What you do in the way of altering it to suit your own brand of humor is up to you.  I am also including one illustration so you can get a mental image of Aunt Knox! The cover is pictured on my “Children’s Books” page on this blog if you crave seeing one more illustration by the talented Isidro Xilonzóchitl. There are 16 in all in the book.  He did have fun with the gift-listing ones!!

I also just received his illustrations for our next book, which I hope will be out by April.

Copyright© Judy Dykstra-Brown, 2014. (please do not transmit in its entirety in any form. If you wish to reprint an excerpt, please include a pingback to the original.)

Sock Talk
(A Christmas Story)

by
Judy Dykstra-Brown

I’d heard the story many times
of Great Aunt Knox’s beastly crimes—
toward Mom, who, as a kid like me
was as upset as she could be
whenever she received a box
from her Aunt Knox.

For, in tinsel or in birthday wrap,
in ribbon or in mailing strap,
whatever it came wrapped up in,
whatever the gift could have been,
twice a year from her Aunt Knox,
my mom got sox.

I wished that I could have some talks
with this Aunt Knox.
“Aunt Knox,” I’d say while we were talking,
“a Christmas gift goes in a stocking,
not the other way around.
Stockings never should be found
inside a present,
’cause it’s not pleasant
to wait and wait and wait and wait
for the proper opening date
just to open up a box
of sox!”

Of course, these talks were all imaginary.
I was never even very
sure of whether Great Aunt Knox was still alive.
I didn’t know how long a great aunt could survive.
So when my mother got a letter
from Aunt Knox and said, “I’d better
ask her here, I haven’t seen her for so long.”
“I was wrong,”
I thought, “the dread Aunt Knox
still walks!”
And when Aunt Knox called up to say
she’d visit us for Christmas day,
I knew that this would be the year
I’d bend her ear.

I went to buy Aunt Knox perfume
and put fresh flowers in my room.
I’d even give Aunt Knox my bed
and sleep upon the floor instead.
But it was still hard to believe
that in our house on Christmas Eve
I’d finally have those long-planned talks
with my Aunt Knox.

Blog Sock Talk

I’d never met Aunt Knox before,
but when I met her at the door,
she gave my nose a playful tweak,
and ruffed my hair and kissed my cheek.
(Aunt Knox’s kiss was surely wet.)
She asked me what I hoped to get
for Christmas. Then she pulled me near
and cupped her ear.

“She’s kind of deaf,” my mother said,
So I got right up beside her head
and shouted to my Auntie Knox,
“I wouldn’t mind a bird that talks,
a sand pail or a music box,
a robot that both speaks and walks,
a diary with keys and locks,
a tumbler that can polish rocks,
some overalls or painters’ smocks,

but you know what?” I said, “Aunt Knox,
when I rip into a box,
It seems as bad as chickenpox
to just get sox.”

I asked her if she understood.
She smiled and said she surely could.
She asked what else and bent her head
closer to me, so I said,
“I’d like lots of other things:
paints, crayons, ruby rings,
a horse, a Barbie doll, some books,
a new toy oven that really cooks,
a ball, some blocks, a jigsaw puzzle,
a baby crocodile with muzzle,
bubbles, bracelets, purses, beads,
comic books, sunflower seeds,
a kid’s Mercedes just my size,
or even a Crackerjack surprise
I could accept
except,
please,” (And here I gave her hand a squeeze,)
“please, please,
Aunt Knox,
don’t give me sox!”

She rose and said she’d heard enough,
although she’d missed some of the stuff
I’d said because she’s hard of hearing.
She said with Christmas quickly nearing,
she’d be off to do some shopping,
and she assured me she’d be stopping
for a special gift for me.

And sure enough, beneath the tree
that night there was a package wrapped,
my name on it. I poked and tapped.
I squeezed and shook it, poked its side,
but never could I quite decide
what it was. She wouldn’t say.
She said to wait till Christmas day.
At bedtime, though, she kissed my ear
and said, “It’s on your list, my dear.”

All night I lay upon the floor
listening to Aunt Knox snore.
I didn’t mind the noise at all
’cause I was sure she’d bought the doll.
And just before I fell to sleep
I prayed the Lord Aunt Knox to keep
safe from harm
and dry and warm.

On Christmas morning, while Aunt Knox dressed,
we pushed and prodded, shook and guessed
what was tied up in each bow.
And my Aunt Knox was surely slow.
I ran upstairs three times or four
and knocked and knocked upon her door
while Aunt Knox said that she’d be there
after she had curled her hair.

I thought Aunt Knox was never coming.
My brother drove me crazy drumming.
So when Dad joined in his prum prum prumming
I accidentally elbowed Roy
to the beat of “Little Drummer Boy.”
Then mother almost made me go
upstairs to bed again and so
our Christmas started sort of slow.

Then, finally, Aunt Knox came down
attired in her morning gown
to give my nose another tweak,
to ruff my hair and kiss my cheek—
a wet one, but I didn’t care,
’cause my Aunt Knox was finally there!
I grabbed my present from the tree,
the one Aunt Knox had bought for me.
Again, her words rang in my ear.
She’d said, “It’s on your list, my dear.”

I couldn’t wait to see in it.
I wondered what could be in it.
Perhaps it was a bird that talks,
a sand pail or a music box,
a robot that both speaks and walks,
a diary with keys and locks,
a tumbler that can polish rocks,
some overalls or painters’ smocks.
But when I opened up that box,
my Aunt Knox
had bought me sox!!!!

A dozen pair were there inside—
sox long,sox short, sox thin and wide.
The clock advanced by tics and tocks
as I glared up at mean Aunt Knox,
but I couldn’t think of a word to say
appropriate to Christmas day.

“Well, try them on,” my mother said,
but I just nudged the box instead.
I’d had such fantasies of dolls
and ruby rings and bowling balls.

Then Aunt Knox came and kissed my head.
She’d meant to give a doll, she said,
till she remembered that in our talks
she was sure I’d mentioned sox
many times, while she could not recall
whether I had mentioned doll
at all.

“Why don’t you try them on, my dear?”
my Aunt Knox asked with awful cheer.
And she was grinning ear to ear
as she held out some sox with seals
emblazoned on their toes and heels.
I took them as my brother Roy
gleefully unwrapped his toy.
The robot that both speaks and walks
was what he got from Great Aunt Knox.

“Do try them on,” my mother said,
but I just stood and hung my head.
I could have gotten something great.
Instead, these sox would be my fate
forever, like a family curse.
I tried to think of something worse
but couldn’t. And I rued the day I’d had those talks
with my Aunt Knox.

Meanwhile, Mom was rifling through
sox red and yellow, pink and blue
to pull a pair of lumpy sox
from the bottom of my Christmas box.
“Why don’t you try these on?” she said.
The sox were gray with purple thread
around the legs—
the very dregs
of that whole gruesome box
of sox.

So I pulled on the seal-decked sox
held out to me by Auntie Knox.
I craved the robot Roy had got,
but sox were not too bad, I thought,
and clicked my heels and did a dance
to try to give those sox a chance.
I turned three somersaults in all,
then slid my sox on down the hall.
I stuck my sox up in the air
to show old Roy I didn’t care.

But pretty soon I said, “You know
there’s something in this stocking’s toe.”
I pulled it off and felt inside—
something round and not too wide,
something empty in the middle.
I pulled in out to solve the riddle
and while I thought I’d find some “thing,”
I found instead a ruby ring

Well, then I dove into that box,
reaching into piles of sox,
shaking out sox thin and wide,
seeing what could be inside.
I found a ball, some blocks, some beads,
a Barbie doll, sunflower seeds,
a diary with keys and locks,
a puzzle and a music box.
I shook out sox both short and long.
I shook out sox all morning long.
I finally shook out so much stuff
that even I had had enough—
almost.

I was only six back then,
but now that I am nearly ten,
every year my Auntie Knox
sends Roy bowling balls or blocks
She sent my dad a cuckoo clock.
She even sent my mom a wok.
Twice.
Sometimes she sends me something nice—
a robot or a music box—
but if I’m lucky, my Aunt Knox
sends me SOX!!!!!

And to all a good night!!